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Northern California 8 Day Itinerary Check and Tips

Northern California 8 Day Itinerary Check and Tips

Jul 29th, 2009, 10:45 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2009
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Northern California 8 Day Itinerary Check and Tips

We are planning a trip to N. Calif the end of August. I want to head north of San Fran and my focus is this: coastline drives, funky and eccentric towns, Redwoods, a touch of wine country, a horseback ride, and State Parks.
So, I am thinking of staying in the Fort Bragg (Shoreline Cottages) area for the first 3 nights. Then head to Ferndale (Shaw House or Victorian Village Inn) or Arcata (Hotel Arcata) area for another 3 nights. And finally head back down to Petaluma (Metro) or Guerneville (Fern Grove Cottages) for the final two nights.

My questions are:
Does the general geographic flow make sense?
I gathered that staying in the Fort Bragg area would offer us the opportunity to enjoy the Mendocino area - correct?
Obviously shooting up to Ferndale/Arcata is with the intention of seeing really big trees. Suggestions on one town vs. the other or alternative places to stay?

Is one better than the other for Petaluma vs. Guerneville? I am thinking I can finish out the trip enjoying the Russian River, Wine Country, Jenner area from that area.
My idea with finishing the trip down there is that I am hoping to head straight to the airport from there for a Sunday noon flight. Is staying in Guerneville or Petaluma area and driving to the airport possible or should we stay in San Fran proper.

Any advise, tips, comments etc would be so greatly appreciated!
NikoliV is offline  
Jul 29th, 2009, 12:53 PM
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Planning to drive all the way to Fort Bragg on Highway One the first day will be looooooooong day. Driving on One is a wonderful, but often very slow experience with speeds not exceeding 40 miles per hour in some stretches. I would break that drive into two days. Stop somewhere around Gualala or The Sea Ranch. There is a lot to see along the route and doing that in one day would be doing yourself a real disservice.

I would plan to stay in Mendocino, not Fort Bragg. Mendocino has more charm and if your intention is to explore start parks, Van Damme and Navarro River Redwoods Park are either right there or very close by.

If it were me I would plan to spend some time at Point Reyes, as it is a truly unique place.
iamq is offline  
Jul 29th, 2009, 01:10 PM
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Oops I forgot to mention that Humbolt Redwoods State Park is a very nice place with lots of hiking and old growth redwood viewing opportunities.

Have a great trip.
iamq is offline  
Jul 29th, 2009, 01:33 PM
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As an alternative to Ferndale or Arcata consider Trinidad, furter north, right on the coast, closer to Redwood Nat. Park. I'd break the trip betweem SF and Fort Bragg at some place such as Fort Ross, or Bodega Bay.
Guerneville or Sebastapool would be better, IMO, than Petaluma which is right on the 101. Both are also closer to the Russian River and Dry Creek Valley wine country.
boom_boom is offline  
Jul 30th, 2009, 06:23 AM
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Stay in Guernville for your last couple of nights. Armstrong Woods is a nice park to see the Redwoods. The Russian River area is tops for wine especially Pinot Noir. We found the drive from Guernville to the Oakland airport quite easy and would be OK for a noon flight.

Enjoy California. It is a beautiful state.

OhioDi is offline  
Jul 30th, 2009, 08:48 AM
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Thanks for the tips thus far. I locked into Guerneville for the last few nights as suggested. I also switched to Trinidad. Still stumbling for a place to stay in Mendocino. I originally wanted Ft. Bragg because I found a good rate. If simple and clean inexpensive lodging can be found in Mendocino we will do it.
Thanks again for the tips.
NikoliV is offline  
Jul 30th, 2009, 05:12 PM
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If you just want to see some redwoods, you don't need to go up to Arcata or Trinidad. There are quite a number of fine redwood groves between the Menocino Coast and Hwy 101. There are also very nice trees right near Guerneville. And the Humboldt Redwoods (really awesome groves) is about an hour south of Arcata.

If you do go up to Trinidad, the southernmost groves of Redwood National Park are about 40 minutes north. Staying in Trinidad is a better option than Arcata but also more costly.

I'm not sure how many redwood groves you want to see but you have many choices in Northern California. Just don't miss some of the other outstanding sights while you are here.

Also, there's nothing wrong with staying in Ft Bragg. That Shoreline Cottages you wrote of before actually sounds quite nice from the reviews on Trip Advisor. You could spend a lot more money somewhere else.
Supercilious is offline  
Jul 30th, 2009, 05:15 PM
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I prefer Ft. Bragg to Mendocino. Less expensive and a little more laid back. I would stick with your original plan. Don't forget to check out glass beach!
MonicaRichards is offline  
Jul 30th, 2009, 06:50 PM
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I don't know if you are getting up as far as Redwood State Park, but one of my favorite places on the coast is Fern Canyon. Access is via Davison Road (9 mile dirt road that travels through old growth redwood forest down to the beach) about 3 miles north of Orick. One can usually see the Roosevelt Elk that roam near the beach. The trail is about 2 miles round trip through steep canyons covered by ferns. It is gorgeous. We alway finish up our hike with a lunch on one of the picnic tables looking out at the elk.
BarbAnn is offline  
Jul 30th, 2009, 08:10 PM
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It's been a couple of years since I've been up that way, but I didn't remember anything outstanding in Fort Bragg. Mendocino is more quaint.

Be sure to allot quite a bit of time for Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the Avenue of the Giants.

There is, unfortunately, a big fight over which state parks are going to be closed because of the budget crisis. Keep checking the particular state parks that you plan to visit to make certain they are open when you plan to visit.

I doubt if they will seriously close Humboldt, but if they do, then you can drive further up to Redwoods National Park. If you do go that far north, then think of spending a night or two in Crescent City.

The redwoods in both Humboldt and Redwoods are as pristine as they can get. Whichever one you visit, it'll stay in your memory a long long time.

Enjoy your trip!

Oh, forgot - if Fort Ross is open, do take a tour. It's a unique structure and has plenty of history associated with it.
easytraveler is offline  
Jul 30th, 2009, 08:37 PM
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I did a route through there last year, and if you're considering Humboldt Redwoods Park, it's absolutely worth the trip. Plenty of places to walk around off the road and commune with the Giants.

If you want a funky place to stay and eat, I spent one night at the Riverwood Inn in Phillipsville. It's a roadhouse, with a Mexican restaurant and bar on the main floor, but they have several rooms downstairs you can rent. It was definitely an experience. Their website says there are no phones, no TV, or hairdryers...If nothing else, the restaurant was good and the margaritas excelent.
sheri_lp is offline  
Aug 6th, 2009, 04:44 AM
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I am loving all of your responses. So very helpful. Keep them coming...I am making notes!
NikoliV is offline  

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